Dolphin Tiki Bar and Grill, Marco Isand, Florida

Regular readers know by now that while Nancy and I were in Marco Island, pretty newlyweds cousin Scott Griffin and Nora Raynor came to stay with us for a few days. Nancy and Nora scheduled a spa day at the JW Marriott a few blocks down the beach from the Marriott Crystal Shores, where we all were staying. Scott and I, not to be outdone, decided to have a Guy Spa Day. That is, we went out for an extended lunch. I stress that there were no other activities.

The keys to the Guy Spa Day lunch were (1) on the water, (2) very casual, and (3) outside dining. We picked the Dolphin Tiki Bar and Grill. Nancy and I had been there before several times, and I’ve reviewed dinner there here. You can count on it for delicious, well cooked seafood.

Scott and I sat down outside, ordered a couple of Channel Marker IPAs from the Islamorada Beer Company down in the Keys. It’s a pretty light IPA, a session IPA, and not very hoppy. In short, it’s a beach IPA. I wouldn’t drink it up here in the frozen north, but sitting in the sun beside a marina with the temperature in the low 80s … just right. Well, I would drink it but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

We also ordered some Boom Boom Shrimp — fried shrimp with a spicy sauce –to start.

The shrimp were very fresh and the sauce was very tasty. I don’t eat a lot of boom boom shrimp, as I sedulously avoid fried foods (other than hushpuppies). But if boom boom shrimp were always this good, I’d eat a lot more.

Upon consideration of the beer and the shrimp, we both decided to get the Famous “Tiki” Grouper Sandwich.

The grouper, as always in Marco Island, was delicious, and Scott says the .  lemon pepper version was well balanced.  My sandwich was a little heavy on the onion, but I shifted some of it to my beans and rice. Win win.

Scott ordered french fries as a side. I actually wavered between the beans and the Dolphin Tiki’s onion strings, but stayed loyal to the beans. It being a Spa Day, however, I decided to order some onion strings as well.

The onion strings at Dolphin Tiki are world class, perfectly fried with good onion flavor.

Now that was a very good lunch, plenty of food. So we decided to split a slice of key lime pie and to each get a Mudslide, a drink combining vodka, Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream, ice cream, and chocolate. That was another Guy Spa Day decision.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of key lime pie. As Nancy says the pie often tastes of cleaning products, but there was no such hint in the Dolphin Tiki version. The Mudslide was very tasty, like a chocolate milkshake. Ordering it after the shrimp, the sandwiches, the beans, the fries, and the onion strings may have been a bad choice, but then Guy Spa Days are built on bad choices. Sated, we went back to Crystal Shores, Scott to take a nap (bad choice), and I to take a walk on the beach (rare good choice).

I must mention an issue with the Dolphin Tiki Bar. It has two sections: a bar and some tables and booths under a thatched roof, with all four walls open to the air; and a patio area with tables and shade umbrellas. The difference usually is negligible, but these are COVID times, and on a lunch trip earlier, Nancy and I decided to eat outside on the plaza rather than, as we usually do, “inside” in the tiki. Even on the plaza, as it turned out, our waitress came out maskless. Nancy and I discussed going somewhere else, but it was a sunny day (lots of germ-killing ultraviolet light) with a lovely germ-dispersing breeze coming off the azure water of the marina we overlooked. Nancy felt comfortable, and after performing a highly scientific parts-per-million analysis of the ambient atmosphere I concurred. We ordered and had a lovely lunch without catching the virus. I’m not sure we’d do it again, or if waiters will remain unmasked with the current COVID upsurge.

The bottom line: go to the Dolphin Tiki for an excellent (if more moderate) meal. Just look around first.


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